DIETER NAGL  /  AFP/Getty Images
Convicted Holocaust denier Gerd Honsik is led into court on Monday in Vienna, Austria.
updated 12/3/2007 2:29:05 PM ET 2007-12-03T19:29:05

A right-wing Austrian writer who fled to Spain after being convicted of Holocaust denial charges 15 years ago must serve his 18-month sentence, Vienna's highest court said Monday.

Gerd Honsik, 67, must serve out the sentence handed down in 1992, the court said, rejecting his plea for leniency because of his age and an unspecified illness. However, the court also turned down a prosecution request to make the former fugitive serve even more time.

Honsik was captured in southern Spain in August and extradited in October. He fled after being convicted of denying the existence of the Holocaust and claiming the Nazis never used gas chambers — grounds for criminal prosecution in Austria.

The charges stemmed from writings that defended Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. Between 1986 and 1989, Honsik published writings disputing that the Nazis killed 6 million Jews during World War II. Among his books is one titled "Acquittal for Hitler?"

Austria's law making it a crime to deny the Holocaust applies to "whoever denies, grossly plays down, approves or tries to excuse the National Socialist genocide or other National Socialist crimes against humanity in a print publication, in broadcast or other media."

The crime is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

British author David Irving was convicted under the law in February 2006 and sentenced to three years in prison. He served 13 months and was released in December 2006 on probation.

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